Suzi Stern is a jazz vocalist, lyricist, composer and educator currently living in Lenox Massachusetts.
Stern has released 8 CD’s to date under her own name (Viewpoint Records, Aardvark Records and Bus Biscuit Records), and has performed on a myriad of other artists projects. Her latest release “Romancing the Dark” steps out of the jazz idiom for which she is known, and is a collection of her own original compositions and arrangements based on eleven poems by Stern.
She is a published poet and her lyrics appear in the Bill Evans second edition fake book and David Friesen’s book of transcriptions called ” Years Through Time,” both Hal Leonard publications.
Suzi was inducted into the 2023 Austin Jazz Society Hall Of Fame for her many contributions to the Texas music scene.
Jazz, New Music, Singer Songwriter
“Grace and Elegance” / Jazz Times
“Wonderful, soaring with jazzy lyricism” / Downbeat
“Poetic…masterful…control and richness…poignant” /All About Jazz
The Austin American Statesman says of jazz singer Suzi Stern; “Stern has learned the great secret that transcends art – that the voice from the heart is at the center of all virtuosity.”
The combination of Stern’s emotional clear voice, flying over her uncategorizable compositions with her poignant lyrics creates a magic that moves the listener and is unforgettable.
Jazz pianist and Columbia Records recording artist Denny Zeitlin says of Stern, “It has been years since a singer has affected me so profoundly. Suzi has it all: a fantastic vocal instrument, effortless musicality, and a special way of working with the material and evoking the deepest emotions.”
UPBRINGING AND EDUCATION
Suzi was born in Buffalo, the daughter of jazz violinist Harry Stern who toured with The Vaughn Monroe big band and was leader of his own orchestras in Western New York of which Suzi’s mother was the featured singer.
Her maternal grandfather spent his life touring in Vaudeville as a comic acrobat sharing the bill with the likes of a young Frank Sinatra, The Marx Brothers, George Burns and Bob Hope. Living in a family where creative outpourings were encouraged and being able to hear her fathers musicians come over for post gig jams gave Stern a clear sense that music was her true love at a very early age. Growing up in a home with music as its’ centerpiece, studies in classical voice, piano, classical guitar, flute and dance (studying at The American Ballet Theatre School and Joffrey Ballet School in NYC) were part of everyday life. After moving from NY to Austin Stern studied classical voice with Gina DeCloux, John Aielli and Rose Taylor but her most inspired learning experience came later and was undoubtedly with vocal wizard Bobby McFerrin.
Stern has released 8 CDs to date under her own name (Viewpoint Records, Aardvark Records and Bus Biscuit Records), and has performed on a myriad of other artists projects. Her latest release “Romancing the Dark” steps out of the jazz idiom for which she is known, and is a collection of her own original compositions and arrangements based on eleven poems by Stern.
In review of “Romancing…” Jazz Times reviewer H. Allen Williams states that “Stern’s musical style pallet is wide…a testament to her wide reaching command of many styles and her ability to match a musical mood to the feeling of her words.”
Suzi Stern is a published poet and her lyrics appear in the Bill Evans second edition fake book and David Friesen’s book of transcriptions called ” Years Through Time,” both Hal Leonard publications.
She has penned lyrics to a plethora of classic jazz compositions not typically performed by vocalists and has collaborated with numerous contemporary artists on their works such as Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now” Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” and Joshua Redman’s “Hide and Seek” which have been recorded by artists worldwide.
Suzi is the assistant director of Lulufest ATX along with long time friend and colleague renowned jazz pianist Peggy Stern. In 2023 Suzi took the LLF concept up to Western Massachusetts and is now the producer-director of LuluFest Lenox. LuluFest presents creative music where all the band leaders are women. While men have long dominated the field of jazz, this festival seeks to showcase female musicians and their unique musical concepts as well as encourage young women who don’t often see women in leadership roles in the music business. Lulufest has presented a plethora of world class musicians such as Helen Sung, Ingrid Jensen, Masumi Jones, Claire Daly, Allison Miller, Carrie Rodriguez, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, Dawn Clement,Pamela York, Sara Caswell, Jay Clayton, Sara Caswell, Mary Ann McSweeney, Emily Gimble, Su Terry and many more exciting artists from all over the globe.
Stern and her partner pianist-composer George Oldziey were the producers of a jazz house concert series known as Casa Karen in Austin Texas which had the reputation for being the best venue for acoustic jazz in central Texas. The series attracted touring artists over it’s 10 year span the likes of Eddie Gomez, Alex Sipiagin, Stan Killian, Fred Hamilton, Rich Perry, Don Edwards, Ed Soph, David Amram, Roseanna Vitro, Mark Soskin, Dean Johnson, Tim Horner, Carmen Bradford, Jay Clayton, Helen Sung, Sorin Zlat, Lynn Seaton, Peter Stolzman, Sara Caswell, Rogé, Brad Leali to name only a few, and many of the best artists from the Austin, Houston and Dallas area.
Suzi moved to Austin Texas from NY in 1975 and lived between Portland, NY and Austin where she met and married composer George Oldziey. In 2016 the couple relocated to Pasadena California for their respective musical endeavors in 2016 where Stern quickly became a much sought after vocal coach in the Los Angeles area and continued to perform and write. Her work as a jazz clinician and performer were put on hold during the pandemic, so when a position in the film scoring department at The Berklee College of Music in Boston looked promising for George they moved east again in 2022.
They currently live in western Massachusetts commuting to Boston weekly for George’s Berklee College of Music gig, and have fallen in love with the Berkshire area; feeling incredibly fortunate to have both the big city and small town experience creating an inspiring “best of both worlds” scenario in their lives.
CLINICS AND TEACHING
Suzi directs jazz/improvisation clinics and teaches from her home studio in MA as well as online classes all over the USA and as far as the UK, France, Nepal, and Sweden. The miracle of Zoom!
While living in Austin, Stern was involved with The New School of Music Jazz and Blues camp in Austin Texas which is in partnership with saxophonist and educator Don Braden and the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut.
She has taught luminaries such as Columbia recording artist Darden Smith, blues icon Angela Strehli, Austin based Brazilian songstress and recording artist Susanna Sharpe, and coached the brilliant singer songwriter Jane Siberry to name only a few of her beloved past students along with Downbeat Jazz poll student “best of” award winners in the vocal jazz improvisation category.
Some of Stern’s musical colleagues and collaborators of note have been: Denny Zeitlin, David Friesen, Joe Henderson, Mal Waldron, Joshua Redman, Jessica Williams, Leroy Vinegar, Helen Sung, Bob Rodriguez, Bud Shank, Jay Clayton, Jerry Hahn, Nancy King, Peter Stolzman, Harvie S, Stefan Karlsson, Randy Porter, Arjen Gorter, as well as Rick Margitza, Bill Watrous, A.D. Manion, Shiela Jordon, Red Mitchell, Martin Banks, John Stowell, Alan Jones, Leo Baumeister, Martin Van Danoven, Jeff Johnson, Jay Anderson, Bobby Militello, Bruce Saunders, Bruce Hall, Doug Hall, Horacio Rodrigues, John Mills, Jeff Helmer, John Fremgen, Paul Ostermayer, Cyro Baptista, Duduka Da Fonseca, Clay Moore, Dick Berk, George Mitchell, Glen Moore, Alex Coke, Terry Clark, Bill Mays, Bill Ginn, Roscoe Beck, Dave Morgan, J.J. Johnson, Gabriel Santiago, Paul McKey, Dennis Dotson, Adrian Ruiz, Seth Carper, Luis Coutinhu, Jimmy Shortell, Steve Schwelling, Sebastian Whittaker, Rob Lockhart, Paul Unger, Dave Monsch, Tony Campese, Brannen Temple, Wayne Salzmann, Paul English, Chris Maresh, Mitch Watkins, Mike Koenig, Terry Bowness, Brad Terry, Bobby Torres, Rick McCray, John Steinman, Peggy Stern, Slim Richie, Will Taylor, Gary Hobbs, Elias Haslanger, Woody Witt, Bob Mayer, Dave Captien, Frederick Sanders,Tomas Ramirez, Faulkner Evans, Scott Laningham, Spencer Starnes, Pat Harris, Dan Schulte, Art Resnick, Rich Harney, Glen Schutz, Hope Morgan, Tina Marsh, Russ Scanlan, Mike Sailors, Ratzo Harris, Dr. James Polk, Eddie Hobizol, Su Terry, Wynton Reynolds, David Craig, Edwin Livingston, Glen Rexach, Rob Kazenel, Mady Kaye, Beth Ullman, Dianne Donovan, Jerry Hahn, Luis Garza, Eric Avinger, Brennen Nase, Douglas Harvey, Randy Zimmerman.
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